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JETS - BILLS PREVIEW

By Drew Buono
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
September 22nd, 2006
The Jets visit Dick Jauron and his Buffalo Bills this Sunday in Orchard Park, NY.
The Jets visit Dick Jauron and his Buffalo Bills this Sunday in Orchard Park, NY.

The Jets head to a familiar place this weekend to take on an opponent they know all to well. The Buffalo Bills host the Jets on Sunday in a game of long time division rivals. A surprising twist to the story is that whoever wins on Sunday will be in second place in the division.

Before the season started this would have seemed like an unlikely scenario, being that it looked as if both teams were headed towards rebuilding. But, both teams have played well so far, especially Buffalo who almost beat the Patriots in the first week of the season and shut down the Dolphins offense last week. The Jets are coming off a loss to the Patriots, but have proven that they are not a push over opponent and will fight to the very end.

QB Chad Pennington is having his best season so far coming off his second rotator cuff surgery. The first injury came in Buffalo back in 2004 and this will mark Pennington’s first return to Buffalo since then. Pennington though is a major concern for the Bills after having two consecutive 300-yard games, (the first time he has done this in his career). Pennington though isn’t focused about going back to Buffalo after the injury. He’s focused, “on trying to do everything I can to help us win.”

Bills coach Dick Jauron has been impressed with the Jets QB this year.

"He (Pennington) is a smart quarterback and under control and hard to rattle," said Jauron. "A very accurate passer, and that is what I am seeing on the tapes that I am watching. He controls an offense, doesn’t rattle and knows what he wants to do and knows how to do it, and playing a high level right now."

The run game and the offensive line though are a big concern for the Jets. The four running backs that make up the Jets backfield have combined for only 142 yards in 2 games with an average of 2.4 yards-per-carry.

Head coach Eric Mangini commented on the offensive line and the run game during the week. In relation to the offensive line, Mangini said that, “the important thing is understanding how they play, the types of things they're going to try to do defensively, how that plays into the blocking schemes, protections, and matching their energy, matching their aggressiveness.” Mangini would further state that running the ball will all depend on how the defense plays and how the team can handle the defense and still play well.

Word from Hofstra is that RB Kevan Barlow will get the start this week over Derrick Blaylock to try to shake things up a little. Blaylock missed Thursday's practice due to the birth of his child, but is expected to play on Sunday.

Barlow is sick and tired about being asked why the running game hasn’t been effective so far this season. Out of the four running backs, Barlow is feeling the most pressure from the New York media and isn’t hiding it too well. He is the big name talent the Jets got to replace the injured Curtis Martin and so far has not lived up to the numbers he had in San Francisco. Sunday he gets his shot to break out.

The Bills have sacked the QB 10 times in the first two games so there's a lot of pressure on the Jets offensive line which is likely going to be missing G Pete Kendall for the second straight week. Sophmore G Norm Katnik will likely get the start and recently signed G Wade Smith could get some playing time as well. The Jets don't help this stat much, as Pennington has been sacked six times so far this season. Still , Pennington has been a blessing for the Jets and will continue to strive for excellence on Sunday.

The Jets will need to establish the run early to stop Buffalo’s defense from dominating the offensive line and getting to Pennington. Only if the run game develops, can we see Pennington have another great Sunday. The key is that Buffalo’s defense while great against the pass is horrible against the run. The Bills have allowed 275 yards on the ground so far this season. This has to be a good omen for Mangini and the running backs because, if they can’t get anything going, this game might look worse than it did for the Dolphins last weekend. The Jets defensve line, led by Shaun Ellis will be looking to rattle the young Bills' QB JP Losman who even though feels more confident about grasping the game and the new offense, has a history of making mistakes when under fire.

INSIDER TIDBITS:

- The Bills lead the regular season series against the Jets 49-41 and are 27-18 against gang green in Buffalo.

- The Jets won the first regular season meeting back in 1960, 27-3.

- WR Laveranues Coles remains questionable for Sunday but is expected to play. If Coles is hurting, look to see more of Justin McCareins, who lost his starting job to Jerricho Cotchery in training camp this summer.

-There's somewhat positive news for the Jets offensive line with G/C Trey Teague slowly making his way back. Teague, before this week, hadn’t practiced with the team since April and although he didn't officially practice this week, he was back in uniform and participated in some drills. He won't play this week, but his return could be soon.

- The Bills are 11-3 when RB Willis McGahee rushes for 90 yards or more, a stat that should be key for the defensive oriented Mangini.

- OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson won’t be the only rookie offensive lineman from the University of Virginia on the field in Buffalo. The Bills OT Brad Butler played with Ferguson and considers him as “one of my best friends.”

INJURY REPORT:

New York Jets
-OL Trey Teague (Ankle): Doubtful
-CB David Barrett (Hip): Questionable
-WR Laveranues Coles (Calf): Questionable
-WR Tim Dwight (Thigh): Questionable
-OL Pete Kendall (Thigh): Questionable
-DL Dave Ball (Hand): Probable
-LB Matt Chatham (Foot): Probable
-QB Chad Pennington (Calf): Probable
-S Kerry Rhodes (Ankle): Probable
-DL Kimo von Oelhoffen (Knee): Probable

Buffalo Bills
-S Matt Bowen (Shin): Questionable
-LB Takeo Spikes (Hamstring): Questionable

Game time is at 1:00 PM on Sunday, local TV on CBS 2 and local radio on 1050 ESPN radio and WCRN 104.3 on Long Island. Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com after the game for a complete recap!

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